By Brother Patrick Hogan, F.M.S.
Volunteers from Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, picked up where we left off in February with Superstorm Sandy recovery, because the job is not finished and help is still needed.
The St. Marcellin Champagnat Service Society (CMCS) spent a week in August reaching out to the people of Roxbury, Rockaway and Far Rockaway. Every morning at 7:30 a.m., 40-50 members of the SMCS society gathered at Molloy, boarded the two yellow bchool buses and head to the Rockaways.
We picked up volunteers in Howard Beach and Broad Channel, and then, before heading over the bridge, we were treated to bagels and coffee, by Brother Dan O’Riordan, vocation director.
Our first lunch was donated by Sean Tubridy, a graduate of Molloy who owns the Bungalow Bar Restaurant.
One of our goals was to put some money into the local economy. To accomplish this task, the Archbishop Molloy H.S. Storm Relief Fund gave us a $2,600 grant, which enabled us to feed 50 hungry members of our relief program.
So what did we do in August? Well, if you recall, we shoveled sand, sand and more sand in February down in Breezy Point. So in August, we did landscaping; we pulled weeds, weeds and more weeds.
Our first job was to help out St. Genevieve Church in Roxbury. Led by Chris Dougherty and myself, 50 blue shirts descended upon this playground.
We cleared the playground of weeds and trash, and no sooner than we had the play area cleared, it was invaded by kids.
Their laughter sent us a message: This is why we were here on our hands and knees pulling grass and knocking down dead trees.
When we walked away from the job, we had a sense of making their lives a little brighter because we cared.
Not all the jobs were as easy to get the good feeling than when we worked hard at the Center in Rockaway cleaning out the basement. This task was spearheaded by Lauren Kemmerer, Dyana Christie and Sabina Kobinski, cleaning tarpaulins, organizing donated material and cataloging it as well. When we finished, we talked about this and realized that we helped this grassroots volunteer program, “Smallwater,” run by Michelle Cortez, to be able to distribute what they had to those in need in a more efficient way.
The rest of the week was filled with odd jobs. One group helped to reattach a porch, while the other group helped a family get their house back in order.
There is still so much more work to do; our presence shouted out, to everyone who saw this sea of blue, that we have not forgotten that storm victims still need help.
On the last night of our service week, we gathered in Molloy’s student chapel and had our reflection.
During World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis challenged the young people gathered there to go and make disciples, make noise and to make a difference. Listening to the reflections of the young people from all over the Brooklyn Diocese, it was evident that we made a lot of noise, but it was silent.
You could see all these blue shirts: “Not for school but for Life.” And in the sounds of that silence, they made quite a racket.
People came by one after the other and quietly said, “Thanks for coming.”